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This weekend in the arts: Spreckels Organ Society; Jonny Alexander at Swish; 50 years of San Diego Dance Theater; Word Up! returns to The Old Globe; Nathan Hubbard pairs Dorothea Grossman poetry with sound; Space 4 Art open studios; and “Retelling/Recontar” at Art Produce.
Jonny Alexander: ‘Heavy Levity’
Swish Projects will show a solo exhibition of new works by Jonny Alexander, called “Heavy Levity.”
This exhibition is centered around a series of large paintings on canvas, contrasting natural landscape with human-made impact, and Alexander has linked the paintings to each other.
“One painting of a living room scene depicts a ‘painting’ on the wall. Elsewhere in the exhibition that painting can be found at full scale. The works together become connected and self-referential, pointing to the overall theme of blurred boundaries and giving a sense of the liminal space that is created when our perceived separations converge,” Alexander writes in his artist statement.
Alexander’s work is surreal, but within each work, what stands out the most is the juxtaposition of something from nature, or something wild (flowers, landscapes, rocks) with a human, domestic element (a living room setup, a table, an architectural detail).
Details: On view Mar. 18 through Apr. 10, 2022, with an opening reception Friday, Mar. 18 from 6-9 p.m. Viewable by appointment, or can also be seen, mostly, from the sidewalk. Swish Projects, 2903 El Cajon Blvd., North Park. Free.
A Music Tribute to Peace, Dignity and Democracy for Ukraine
Spreckels Organ Society and the San Diego Diplomacy Council will host a tribute to Ukraine, with any donations gathered going towards humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
“We see the current events as an opportunity to call for human dignity and peace. When JD Spreckels donated the organ to the City of San Diego, it was meant to be not just an entertainment tool, but a tool to feed every human soul with deeper and more delicate emotions to grow our human values,” said civic organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez in a statement.
The concert is free, and will feature additional guest performers including baritone Michael Sokol, soprano Laynee Dell Woodward, and mezzo soprano Sarah-Nicole Carter — who recently talked to us about her experience during the two years of the pandemic. The “Organ Pavilion Rock Band,” which I didn’t know existed, will perform classic rock covers. With the band is Chloe Lou, Lauren Leigh Martin, Kenseth Thibideau, Richard “T-Bone” Larson and Ben Zinn. The show will kick off with a performance of the Ukrainian national anthem.
Details: Saturday, Mar. 19, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. Spreckels Organ Pavilion, 1549 El Prado, Balboa Park. Free.
‘Belonging’: 50 years of San Diego Dance Theater
In three shows this weekend, San Diego Dance Theater commemorates its 50-year history, with two new premieres of 2022 works performed with company repertory representing the years 1988, 2004 and 2010. Works from former artistic director Jean Isaacs and artistic director Terry Wilson will be performed, with guests Katie Stevinson-Nollet and Odessa Uno.
Details: Friday and Saturday, Mar. 18-19, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Mar. 20 at 2:30 p.m. Light Box Theater, 2950 Truxton Rd., Ste. 205, Liberty Station. $15-$125.
Word Up!: Playwriting with Farah Dinga and Wahida Hamdard
Word Up! returns to The Old Globe’s outdoor Copley Plaza for the first program in 2022. This pandemic-era project of the Globe’s AXIS and Arts Engagement division features Mad Libs-inspired collaboration, audience participation, interdisciplinary creativity and lots of special guests.
Hosted by the Globe’s Laura Zee, Sunday’s program will be a playwriting collaboration featuring the South West Asian and North African (SWANA) communities in the region, including guest teaching artist Farah Dinga and student and former Afghan refugee Wahida Hamdard — plus other guests. Most Word Up! events feature a live DJ or musical performance, too. Regulars Ric Scales, Miki Vale and Valeria Vega will also appear.
Details: Sunday, Mar. 20, 2022 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Old Globe (outdoor plaza), 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park. Free.
‘Mix and Match’: curated by Nathan Hubbard
In collaboration with San Diego New Music and the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, percussionist and composer Nathan Hubbard presents his curated concert, “Mix and Match,” which was originally scheduled for two years ago in March, 2020 — just before the pandemic forced performance cancellations.
The project features an ensemble with Nathan Hubbard on vibraphone, Nicole Shue on violin, Sharon Taylor on cello, Ariana Warren on woodwinds and Anne Whattoff on vocals.
Whatoff will perform a set of “art songs,” using lyrics by the late poet Dorothea Grossman. Also featured will be works from the unfinished “The Act of Leaving,” and more original pieces.
Details: Saturday, Mar. 19, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. $10-$27.
Space 4 Art: March Open Studios
Visual art, Performance, Music
Friday evening you can take a peek inside the artist studios at Space 4 Art in East Village, and there’ll be a series of four performances throughout the evening — Ania Sundstrom’s Figmentum trio, Nick Lesley and Necking, Jonathan Piper and Chris Warren.
You can learn about some of the artists who are currently in residence at Space4Art here, a list that includes visual artists, installation artists, sound artists, musicians and other performers.
The event coincides with Holi, an Indian festival that celebrates the beginning of spring by dusting each other with colorful powders — Space 4 Art will have that available for guests.
Details: Friday, Mar. 18, 2022 from 7-9:30 p.m. Space 4 Art, 340 16th St., downtown. Free.
‘Retelling / Recontar’: New Works by Helen Redman and Marianela de la Hoz
In a new dual exhibition, artists Marianela de la Hoz and Helem Redman will share paintings that are inherently character-driven. Redman is a figurative painter and mixed-media artist, and her work features creatures and an otherworldly, fantastical wildness, too. De la Hoz paints with incredible detail — realistic but unsettling and slightly absurd. You may have seen her works at the San Diego Museum of Art, which were recently acquired as part of their permanent collection.
Details: Opens Saturday, Mar. 19 with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. Through Apr. 30, 2022. Gallery hours are Thursday from 5-8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., or by appointment. Art Produce, 3139 University Ave., North Park. Free.
For more arts events, or to submit your own, visit the KPBS/Arts calendar, and be sure to sign up for my weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter here.